Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Good things come in fours

Here's the scenario.

You're outside the Stupid Simian nightclub, a local pit deemed apparently glamourous enough that the local D-list celebs haunt it.

It's just you and one other unit there, as everyone else is miles away dealing with a 20 man brawl the CCTV picked up.

One bloke is sat against the wall, pretty much incoherent, bleeding from his head. Nobody knows what happened to him. Two other drunken pests bleeding from their noses are haranguing you, jabbing at the bouncer the size of a small bungalow. The bouncer has a face of thunder and has a corking black eye coming up.

A girl is wailing and demanding an ambulance.

Someone else now bursts out from the club, pursued by another of the door staff. He is wearing a skintight top and there is no way his muscular state was achieved without a little steroidical help.

You manage to figure out that there is now someone out cold in the club, and steroid boy is responsible. He is now standing in the street with that look in the eye that you know means he is just willing you to dare try handcuffing him.

So here's the question. What would you do? What has priority? And then, do you think the office inquisition the following morning would support or criticise you?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Another grim weekend in the Met.

Not that you'd know it.

If you search hard enough in the news websites, you might be lucky to find out news that another CO19 officer is critical after injuries in the line of duty, and that a traffic cop was killed after leaving work.

There's coverage of how the chief is off sick with appendicitus. Just how pathetic is celebrity culture now that a 'known' face gets front page BBC london website coverage for being ill, but the life threatening injuries of an officer doesn't get a mention.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chocolate and Hugs

More musings on riot policing.

I just want people to imagine for a second what it would be like to be a public order (riot) officer, using the G20 circumstances.

You know that a number of your colleagues have been injured. The persons responsible have simply melted away back into the crowd. You know that somewhere in the crowd in front of you is a person wishing to seriously injure you, but you have no idea what they look like and you know they will give you no warning when they try to.

Exactly how do you feel? How do you interact with the people coming near you?

I see Mr new Commisioner whatsisname has ordered a review into public order tactics. Well part of me is glad of that. The public order training I've had is heavily geared towards full riots, poll tax style. There doesn't seem to be an inbetween option, so if this review can come up with something then maybe it'll be for the good. I've heard various ideas from the troops as to what the end result might be though. The consensus from the ground is that we should offer hot chocolate and hugs in future disorder situations.

On a more realistic note I reckon it's time to introduce (like everyone else in Europe) water cannon. It's more image friendly- no headline pictures of sticks swinging and blooded people- and appears to be quite effective. I have no idea why we don't have it. I think it's because of top level paranoia that we don't want to appear too militaristic. But to me it seems a lesser use of force- one bowser with a fire hose versus a line of 16 ugly mugs wielding batons.

I wonder what will happen with those two TSG guys. Not that there was ever a place for getting away with anything but in modern times any place in public with near every person with a video recording phone do something out of line, you know it is near inevitable someone will have recorded it, and won't be saying no to a nice sum from a newspaper or two.

I've done a couple of things public ordery since G20 and the level of paranoia from top brass is laughable. Actually, from some. On one of them the briefing was by a Chief Inspector with all the charisma of a flannel, and said all the right buzzwords, and took extra time to remind us about the current political situation.

A second Chief Inspector on another day was clearly less career minded and was more forthright in his instuction. He reminded us that was never a problem in the use of force on two conditions, namely that it was justified and recorded (in some kind of notes). There may have been a colourful adjective or two inserted.....

Monday, April 13, 2009


The G20 trial by media rumbles on.

Now this may well be an embarrassing fact for a police officer to admit but I don't mind reading the Guardian. I have even been known to actually part with my own money for it.

Well, probably not any more. Someone on their editorial team is so cock-a-hoop that someone sent them the Ian Tomlinson video that they've taken it on themselves to crusade against this tide of police brutality.

I normally read the Guardian because more often than not they seem to have a balanced reporting, and seem to at least acknowledge there are two sides to an issue. I was very interested in their magazine article about two polar opposite approaches on dealing with London's "disaffected" (insert your own adjective here) youth.

However, their G20 coverage, particularly last Saturday's edition which is the last one I looked at- is all about the police brutality. Rent-a-quote people are popping up everywhere saying how the police were sooo nasty and shouted at them and some people even got a baton.

Now don't get me wrong, if there are occasions when we step over the line then yes it needs to be investigated. But where in the Guardian is the acknowledgement of the issues we faced? The dangerous violent minority, who hospitalised officers (where are the pictures of slumped officers being carried away by colleagues? The officer- not in riot gear- who collected a some kind of pole round the head?) and then melted back into anonymity in the crowd?

I wasn't involved directly at the scene, I was effectively on standby off normal duties at my own nick in case we were called in. Very bored I was. On the Wednesday, I was watching the news in the evening with the wife, when the images came on of the crowd surging against the line of officers, helmets being knocked off heads, little digs and pokes going in.

She looked at me, knowing I was on standby for the next day, and although she wouldn't say anything, I knew she was worried.

Still, it isn't as newsworthy or as an interesting anti-police crusade to bother thinking about the personal aspect of this from the other side of the thin blue line. Hundreds of rent-a-quotes from the innocents but not even a token effort to consider things from the other side.

I suppose thats what prompted me into thinking perhaps I ought to get this blogging lark resurrected. I actually started writing this on Sunday but it has taken me till today to actually finish it because I have spent a barking amount of time at work this week, including the most spectacular waste of a day ever yesterday on Operation Completely Unnecssary Total Overkill, more of which another day.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


So yes this has been somewhat neglected, I know.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the worlds most terrible shift pattern I am still stuck on, which generally means time I spend not at work I really don't want to spend thinking about work.
The second is small, has a heck of a set of lungs, is gaining weight at a very healthy rate, and thoroughly does not believe in lie ins!

Still, there is light at the end of the tunnel as far as the first one goes. I am finally in a position where I am able to apply to go somewhere else, so that is what I am doing. I have been doing response team for a number of years now and it is time to test the waters somewhere else.

So maybe, if things work out right, should get the time and inclination to get something back going on here. Still plenty going on in medialand that winds me up, like the major criticism of the overbearing G20 policing yet the 300 arrests, tear gas and charges going on in France barely gets a mention.

So give me a bit of time, a slightly more regular sleeping ability (that'll be a couple of months yet methinks!) and hopefully will get this old dusty blog a bit more sparkly again.